For our first guest speaker in our new home, we welcomed Philip Bedford LRPS. His website is:
Philip is based in South London but came to present us with some tips, locations and inspiration for photographing our neighbouring county of Sussex. He also works in wedding photography and teaches in Croydon.
Having graduated from Brighton University in 2015, Philip began to foster his relationship with the local landscape in 2015, following use of a Lee “Big Stopper” – the 10 stop ND filter used for long exposures. This shot of the beach huts at Hove was the first where he thought that this was for him.
As became evident from his extensive knowledge of the South Downs, Philip determined to get out and about at least twice a week with his camera and quickly found himself drawn to the opposite ends of the day, i.e. sunrise and sunset.
On those downs, there are a few things we need to remember, such as the fact that they face north. This makes it important to know where to be for sunrise and sunset throughout the year as each season brings its changes for where the sun rises and sets.
Philip built up his filter kit with an assortment of graduated ones and showed us some examples of their use and also where their positioning is critical to making them effective. With a straightforward horizon, there is an obvious line on which to place the graduated area but when you have half your frame filled with a hillside or fields, more care is needed so that the impact of the grad is not obvious within the final image. Of course, post-processing software does so much these days but Philip stays refreshingly old school and looks to get as much right in camera so that his editing is only as little as needed. Philip told us he uses a manual white balance rather than auto and in his editing, he will work mainly to get the white balance and colour temperature right.
We did not see many monochrome images but when he produces these, Philip shared that he does push up his colours to make the best mono look, thus enhancing the overall contrast that monochrome often needs.
Adding to his more detailed level of photography, Philip also admitted he likes some of the classics such as the “rule of thirds”. With his knowledge of the area in play, he was concise about getting the composition right and using different focal lengths to find images from what is in front of him. He gave us many examples of an image taken with a wide angle and then one with a 200mm which was, to all intents and purposes, a section of the wide angle shot taken a moment before.
Landscape photography is often about time and just waiting and Philip admitted that he can spend a long time waiting for the right light. The effect of the changing light is very noticeable on the downs and you can photograph the same hills many times; they will look very different with the change of light direction and moving shade. We should also keep an eye on where the light is hitting as that often offers a better image than simply pointing the lens towards the light source.
With his forte being sunrise and sunset, there will often be a problem with capturing the full range of light, even with a filter. Philip looks to his histogram and aims to get it mostly in the middle. With one eye on the shadows, he will work in post-production to stretch the range out and as we have been told by others, the shadows are more forgiving than highlights to being pushed so one needs to be careful not to blow out the highlights.
When it comes to editing, Philip has no issues with leaving in the more manmade aspects should they encroach into the frame. As long as they are a relevant part of the landscape, he feels it’s right to have them there.
It was good to hear Philip encourage us to look at other photographers and their work to find inspiration for our own efforts. Sussex has a few excellent local photographers and Philip offered us these as ones to look at:
Philip gave us a good insight into his tools and tips after the break. Making the best use of tech, we had a list of helpful apps and maps that can be used throughout a photography day to guide us to the best locations.
- OS Explorer OL25
- OS Explorer OL11
- OS Explorer OL10
- Google Terrain
- The Photographer’s Ephemeris
- Clear Outside
- Met Office
- Tide Times
The good old Ordnance Survey (OS) maps are now all available as an app (Subscription based) as well as the traditional paper ones.
The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a favourite for many as a phone app and is also viewable as a web page: https://app.photoephemeris.com/join
There are many other apps that do the same thing so it pays to look and sift through to find ones that you will use. For tides, etc. there is Nautide – useful for seascapes and planning where to be for the best tidal effects.
Timing is everything and Philip was delighted to be asked to produce a photo book covering Sussex. Unfortunately, this was in March 2020 and we can all recall that unique time some three years ago. Philip accepted the challenge and undertook to find some images of the county, covering both the traditional “chocolate box” shots that the publishers expected, as well as some that demonstrated the many different aspects of Sussex.
For those of us who enjoy Landscape photography, I think it was a good evening and that little bit more special because the places Philip showed us are all just a drive or train ride away and can be seen and enjoyed quite a bit easier than other far-flung lands.
If you were there on Wednesday or have read this and want to go along, then please let me know as I am more than happy to spend a few days exploring both the South Downs and the wonderful Sussex coast in the coming spring. Philip has even kindly shared the locations:
- Ditchling Beacon – Car Park just off Ditchling Road, BN1 8ZB, Toilet – Ditchling Village Hall
- Kingston Ridge – Park on Lockitt Way, Kingston, BN7 3LG, Toilet – Wyevale Garden Centre – Lewes
- Cold Coombes – Park near A27 Brighton Rd, Brighton, Lewes BN7 3JJ or off B2123, BN2 6AH, Toilet – Wyevale Garden Centre – Lewes
- Worthing – Steyne Gardens or Marine Parade (Parking is quite easy), Toilet – External toilets for Pier or Worthing Dome
- Brighton & Hove – Parking – see notes at end of this document, Toilets – Brighton: West Pier Arches – Kings Road, Brighton, BN2 2JF – Hove: Kings Esplanade – Kingsway, Hove, BN3 4GP
- Cuckmere Haven & Seven Sisters – West: South Hill Barn Car Park, Seaford East: Seven Sisters Car Park, Toilet – Seven Sisters Country Park Visitor Centre (East side only)
- Beachy Head & Birling Gap – National Trust Car Park at Birling Gap, Beachy Head Road Car Park
Explore Further: Shoreham by Sea, Southwick Beach, Newhaven, Seaford, Eastbourne,
For further toilet info, see https://www.toiletmap.org.uk
- Explore Further: Ouse Valley – Swanborough Hill, Balmer Down, Stanmer Down, Firle Beacon, Mount Caburn
For toilets, see https://www.toiletmap.org.uk
All image are copyright Philip Bedford LRPS
Thanks as ever for reading.